DOA urged to expedite setting up Regional Research Centres in Betong, Sibu and Miri

Dr Abdul Rahman (fourth right) unveiling the Guide Book for Fruits Pests in Sarawak witnessed by Chai (third left) and other guests.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 3: The Department of Agriculture (DOA) is urged to speed up the establishment of Regional Research Centres (RRCs) in Betong, Sibu and Miri.

With the current need to accelerate the modernisation and commercialisation of agriculture in Sarawak, the state government has approved the setting up of RRCs in Betong for the Southern Region; Sibu for the Central Region; and Miri for the Northern Region.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas pointed out that the RRCs are crucial to effectively transfer technology and to provide technical advisory services to the farming communities scattered across the state.

“Currently, the department has only one centralised Agriculture Research Centre located at Semenggok in Kuching. This is no longer able to meet the need to effectively and efficiently transfer crop production technology to the various stakeholders.

“Furthermore, each region has its unique agro-climatic conditions that are more suitable for certain crops,” he said during the 2019 Research Officers’ Progress Meeting (ROPM) today.

His text-of-speech was read out by Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (MANRED) Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail.

Dr Abdul Rahman (seated centre) and Chai (seated second right) together with other guests in a group photo with research officers attending the progress meeting.

Uggah also noted the immediate plan to elevate the existing Kabuloh Agriculture Research Station in Bekenu, Miri into the Northern Regional Research Centre to serve the northern region, including highlands, which will start next year.

In relation to this, he urged research officers to ensure that their research and development programmes and projects were in line with the aims of the Sarawak government.

“To achieve the Sarawak government’s aim of becoming a net food exporter by year 2030, we need to leverage on modern agriculture production technologies while ensuring that these technologies are suitable and practical under the state’s agro-climatic conditions.

“These include the emphasisis on adoption of precision farming and digital technologies to attract and encourage more entrepreneurs and youths to venture into food production along the whole supply chain,” he added.

Uggah asserted it was inevitable and crucial for the department’s researchers to conduct research and development activites along the supply and value chain utilising ICT and digital technology.

“These are important to ensure that we ccan leapfrog into Industrial Revolution 4.0 in agriculture,” he said.

DOA acting director Dr Alvin Chai Kuet Lian was among those present. — DayakDaily